Wednesday, August 18, 2021

OPINION: Lere By-Election: Why APC Defeated PDP, By Abdulrahman Suleiman

The media is awash with different views of how the Lere Federal House of Representative elections were won and lost. I want to present to all and sundry the facts of the matter in an unbiased form and manner. The contributory indices by the All Progressives Congress (APC), the ruling party and the main opposition party the People Democratic Party (PDP).

I was an observer and obtained reliable information from all the eleven wards namely: Yarkasuwa, Kayarda, Danalhaji, Sabon Birni, Saminaka, Abadawa, Lazuru, Lere, Ramin-Kura, Gure/Kahugu and Garu. The wards are largely rural. The levels of the parties preparedness was another major contributory factor that brought to bear who won or lost.

The APC, had a good flag-off campaign and who is who in the party attended. The party’s candidate, although, new in the political landscape of Lere LGA but had the opportunity of serving within a short time as the Director General of RUWASSA and made maximum utilization of the office and channeled a  significant number of boreholes across the eleven wards in the Local Government. This provided a necessary support for his aspiration and many supported him for the position of Member and believed if elected could bring to bear many developmental projects to the constituency. The party, notwithstanding had and still has her own internal squabbles. The major internal opposition is the late Suleiman Lere political machine, currently led by the young Abubakar Buba who was the immediate past LG Chairman and is still the APC candidate to contest in the forth coming LG election. He was made the DG for the campaign and is fairly loved by his constituents. Although, Buba worked for the success of the election, it is very hard to say that the other followers of late Gari ya Waye truly and faithful worked in a similar manner, rather a number of them supported the PDP candidate. Other heavy weights in the APC include: Alh Suleiman Tanimu, Alh. Aliyu Ramin-Kura, Hon Saudatu Sani, Dr Yahaya Saleh, Dr Usman, Hon Lawal Mato, the two members of the State House of Assembly and many others. Each one of them played his or her role within his/her area of jurisdiction and influence.

The PDP on the other hand, had a flip flop flag-off and was poorly attended. The major PDP players namely: Sen Makarfi, H.E Mukhtar Yero, H.E Nuhu Bajoga, Hon Ashiru Isa, etc were all vividly and unambiguously absent. Adding salt to injury was the absence of two major political players in the LG that is Dr Mato Dogara, a former Deputy Speaker and a grassroots politician and Hon Ibrahim Lazuru, a former Council Chairman who had helped many people including teachers while he was in the civil service. The PDP’s candidate, Bar Ibrahim Usman, I learnt got his ticket through the back door after the party had deliberately disqualified a female aspirant, Mrs Joan Manchapa Idris under the pretext that she was not a party member and a non-financial member which were later proved to be false and is presently a court issue.

On inquiring about why Dr Mato and Hon Lazuru were absent at the flag-off, I was reliably informed that they have unresolved issues with the party. The two PDP political actors claim that the process under which the PDP candidate emerged was flawed with irregularities and that he was not validly elected and were not ready to engage in lawless activities. They kept arguing that unless the authentic ward exco list is used in primary elections anything short of that is fraudulent. One of their supporters said “it is unacceptable to have three different ward executive list for Lere Local Government, the earlier the authentic list is recognized and used the better for the party”. The other political juggernauts in the PDP are: Alh. Nuhu Kayarda, Alh. Umaru Yunusa, Joshua Uchissa, Turaki Zinka, etc. They are largely seen and considered as spent forces that need to give way to a new generation of political actors. They are unwilling to do so and that seems to be the breaking point between Alh Nuhu Kayarda and Dr Mato. I was reliably informed that Dr Mato Dogara prefers a shift to a new set of political players while Hon Kayarda wants a sit-tight affair.

From the above, it is clear that the political firmament was hazy for both parties. The APC’s internal crises looked more manageable due to the absence of Hon Suleiman Lere while the PDP looks more intense due to ego from both sides. 

On the issue of money politics, both parties used money. It is just that APC is in power and it was believed that they used more money, but the arrogant use of money by PDP in Kayarda ward was unsurpassed. It is believed that Hon Kayarda wanted to win his ward by any means possible but failed. He was not too fortunate because he had Dr Yahaya to contend with who was also ready to face him naira for naira, influence for influence and community support for community support. Alas, the winning straw came from the kurama axis learnt to have been influenced by the emergence of one Mathew Kaku. 

Alh. Umaru from Yarkasuwa ward was completely absent and the ward that has been hitherto controlled by PDP, converted their support to APC overnight due to the injustice meted on them by the unjust change of the exco list. Abadawa ward anchored by Hon Danazumi Gada, a strong political ally of Dr Dogara and Ibrahim Lazuru also flipped to APC advancing the same reasons like that of Yarkasuwa ward. Saminaka, Sabon Birni, Lere and Danalhaji are traditional APC wards but strikingly, even polling units that have been traditional PDP polling units like Jura, Jele, Kapanuwa under Danalhaji ward turned overnight to APC. Could it be said they were influenced by money? It is doubtful! People Democratic Party must look inward and solve her intra party struggle. Garu and Gure/Kahugu are strong holds of PDP any day any time, unfortunately, PDP failed woefully. Incidentally, Dr Mato, Hon Buba and Uchissa are all from Garu ward. The political decider of the ward is Dr Mato, he has proved so in many instances. Hon Buba is pairing well with Dr Mato and many see him to be under the tutelage of Dr Mato Dogara. For Uchissa, he is just a political amateur, his younger brother Jonathan is considered more politically relevant than him. Lazuru ward is another ward that lies between PDP and APC. Wherever, Hon Lazuru tends his support that party wins and hence his positive role in this Lere bye-election was clearly demonstrated.

It is hard to believe that money or security played the kind of role some people are alleging to have been played. Rather the massive followership that Hon Ibrahim Lazuru and Dr Mato Dogara enjoy in the local government cannot be underrated. Their influence cut across the eleven wards and it seems their dissatisfaction with the way and manner the party leadership has been treating them, they needed to prove a definite point. They did it and they succeeded. 

Out of all the eleven wards, PDP could not win a single ward. Infact, PDP only won less than 20 polling units out of 249 polling units in the entire Local Government. This electoral victory by the APC has never been achieved by any political party in Lere LGA in its entire history. It is very clear that, for PDP to reclaim her rightful position, then they should eagerly, honestly and seriously resolve their internal crises, otherwise PDP will remain in the political wilderness for only God knows how long.

The lesson here is political parties should avoid internal wrangling if they truly want to win elections particularly the party in opposition.

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